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What Is Dry Eye?
Practically speaking, dry eye is a collection of different conditions that either 1) physically affect the surface of the eyes or 2) symptomatically affect how the eyes feel. The symptoms of dry eye include feelings of:
- Tiredness or Strain (eye strain = dry eye)
- Foreign-body Sensation
- Eye Pain (sudden-sharp jolts or steady & dull)
It may also include:
- Intermittent Tearing
- Intermittent Blurriness
- Twitching of the Eyelids
When a doctor looks at your eyes under a microscope, the appearance may range from completely normal appearing all the way to severe dry patches on the surface of the eye or worse.
Causes of Dry Eye
Many things can cause dry eye. Living in Las Vegas, an arid desert certainly doesn’t help. Other factors include aging, hydration status, use of certain medications, and having a history of autoimmune diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus). Anything that causes inflammation around the eyes usually makes dry eye worse.
Sometimes the eyes may feel like they are dry, but in reality some other condition is causing them to feel that way. In Las Vegas, we’ve observed that about half of all symptom-driven cases of “dry eye” are not dry eye at all, but rather other some other treatable condition. Common examples of these other conditions include blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids from various causes), rosacea, eyelid malfunctions, allergy, and overuse of eyedrops.
Treating Dry Eyes
Most cases of typical dry eye can be effectively treated with simple artificial tears. Many different brands work well. They may be used up to 3-4 times a day without problems. If you feel a need to use them more often we recommend using preservative-free tears only, as preservatives themselves can cause dry eye sensations. That’s right… the eyedrops you are using can cause dry eye themselves if used too frequently! An important pearl: most so-called “preservative-free” drops are in fact not preservative-free (even if they come in individual vials). Many contain a stealth preservative called “boric acid” or “borate”. If using drops more frequently, we recommend avoiding these. An example of a truly preservative-free drop is Refresh-Plus.
There are many other effective treatments for dry eye. One treatment that we commonly use is punctal plugs or just “plugs”. Plugs are an elegant way to use your own natural tears more effectively. Sometimes medicated eye drops can be helpful, such as Restasis, Cecua, or Xiidra.
We mentioned earlier that half of all cases of dry eye in Las Vegas are not really dry eye, but are some other condition masquerading as dry eye. For these cases, targeted diagnosis and effective treatment is required.
We’ve helped thousands of people move on from their dry eye. If you are struggling give us a call!
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Meet Our Counselors
Deciding between treatment options is hard. It’s really hard. That’s why we have a team of counselors to help you weigh your options and choose which surgery or treatment is best for you.
After you meet with one of our eye doctors, you’ll sit down with one of our counselors, Andrew, Lolita, or Char, and they will walk you through your doctor’s recommendations. Sometimes there are several options to choose between, and your counselor will show you what to expect from each and help you make a decision.
Schedule a consultation with our counselors today!